Lacking Congressional approval, legal experts question authority over latest executive orders

Some question whether the president will be able to extend enhanced unemployment benefits he put in an executive order without approval from Congress. 

Since the pandemic started in the US, 9.7 million Californians have filed for unemployment, and more than 4-million are currently collecting benefits.

With the recent loss of that extra $600, many are wondering when and if they’ll get the $400 the president is promising.

The president’s order calls for state’s to pay 25% of the reduced $400 unemployment insurance enhancement, with the federal government picking up the rest.

But that plan is expected to be contested by both house democrats and states.

“From the state's point of view, States would say under the 10th amendment you can't force us to participate in this program, particularly with money we don't have,” said David Levine, Professor at UC Hastings College of Law.

“Traditionally the federal government hasn't mandated the level that the states pay, so that may be in dispute,” said Michael Bernick, Attorney and former Director of California Employment Development Department. 

Democratic leaders released a statement about the president’s order saying, “Instead of passing a bill, now President Trump is cutting families’ unemployment benefits and pushing states further into budget crises.”

California’s unemployment insurance fund was 3.2 billion at the end of 2019, according to the former director of the Employment Development Department, but it’s now running a 6.5 billion dollar deficit.

Even so, since unemployment funds are backed by the feds, the former EDD director says the president's order for a reduced benefit should be implemented immediately.

“The executive order should go into Force that money should be paid hopefully you can be be paid retroactive to the week gap that we had, said Bernick.

But it’s unknown where the president plans on getting the money, since Congress has not authorized the funds.

It’s power the president may want to exert, but not necessarily power he has, according to legal scholars.

“The president can propose, the president has to execute the laws but the president can't just snap his fingers and create new money,” said Levine.

Where exactly the money will come from and when can recipients expect to get it?

Those are questions to which no one, including the president, seems to have an answer.

Without a compromise deal between the White House and Congress, it’s something that could take weeks to sort out.